Warhammer 40k

Warhammer 40k: Space Marine – Release dated!

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Oh yes!
An amazing day is upon us. The video game Warhammer 40k: Space Marine, currently under development by Relic Entertainment and to be published by THQ, is finally been stamped with a release date! August 2011.

I’m seriously excited about the release of this game and have been checking for updates of release for some time now.

Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine is going to be a 3rd person, Gears-of-War-esque experience, but that is as far as the comparison goes. The game itself is set in the future-gothic setting of Warhammer 40k and maintains the gritty, dark feel of the Dawn of War game series also developed by Relic Entertainment. As per usual, Relic have pured all their care and attention into this game and I’m very sure its going to pay off, given their history of producing quality Warhammer 40k games like the Dawn of War series of games.

For some more detail on Relic and some details on Warhammer 40k video games, check my older article about Dark Millenium Online.

The main plot of the game involves you assuming control of a Space Marine Captain of the Ultramarines chapter, and decending upon a Forge World used to manufacture Titans (Giant 100ft killing machines capable of levelling entire cities at a time) and defending it from a massive invasion of Space Orks.

Seeing as Space Orks are my favorite army in Warhammer 40k, I’m looking forward to seeing them represented well in this game. There is also the promise of the forces of Chaos presenting themselves and most likely orchestrating their own plans against the Imperium.

This game promises a very visceral gaming experience and I am to understand that there is no cover system employed, which I find both very fitting to Space Marines and the Warhammer 40k universe.

Official website of Warhammer 40000: Space Marine.
Warhammer 40000: Space Marine is confirmed for PC, Xbox 360 and PS3 release.
Here are some previews of what is to come (Warning: Blood & Violence in videos).

Warhammer 40k: Space Marine 2011 ‘Universe’ Dev Diary & Gameplay:

Warhammer 40k: Space Marine 2009 Debut Trailer:

Warhammer 40k: Space Marine 2010 Gameplay Trailer:

Review of Ultramarines – A Warhammer 40,000 Movie

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*SPOILER ALERT*

Well, last night I saw Ultramarines.
This is kind of a big deal for some mostly because it’s the first ‘proper’ Warhammer 40k movie produced by anything approaching a real studio. As I explained in my earlier article regarding Dark Millenium Online, Games Workshop has recently been very shrewd (Or picky) when it comes to signing the Warhammer 40k name to anything that they do not have complete internal control over. This of course is a good thing in terms of quaility control, but when considering that GW dont develop anything outside their own tabletop game themselves or contribute towards other projects such as games or the Movie in this article, it means that they can be a little stiff.

Still, it’s their product and thats their right.

So, enough rambling and more about the movie: Ultramarines – A Warhammer 40,000 Movie. I was a little dissapointed with some aspects and pleased with others.
I’ll dive right in to the bad stuff by announcing that upon finishing watching the movie there were some things that immediately stuck out to me. The most obvious of these was a certain unsettling feeling of misinterpretation that sat with me throughout the movie. I will explain this by saying that the Space Marines in the movie didnt seem to be Space Marines according to my interpretation of what a Space Marine represents. For those who care to read into it, there are a lot of ‘facts’ in the 40k universe that build the idea that a Space Marine is a badass piece of work. Things like the power armour they wear that is handed down through warrior generations, the genetic modification, psychic conditioning and even redundant organs that they have all seemed to count for nought in a movie filled with 1-shot kills and other mysterious deaths I usually associate with ‘silly people in movies’ (Those times watching a movie when you throw your hands up and say ‘You didnt see that coming?!’). It seems unreal to expect them to be the bastions of humanity against all kinds of vicious and violent advosaries when they appear to have little resilience themselves.

Carnak, Chaplain of the Imperial Fists.This brings me to the story itself, which I am quite split about. Despite being written by Dan Abnett, who I have a lot of respect for as a well known Warhammer novel writer, overall the story arc and general narrative appeared out of balance. I felt there were many missed chances to introduce and explain the greatness of Space Marines, perhaps by using flash backs or other techniques. Consequently, I was ultimately left with a feeling of that the story itself seemed obscure and that I wanted to see bigger events and battles. In terms of filmography, there were too many moments of ponderous walking, panned shots and asmosphere building flashes. When clashes with the Chaos Marines flared, they were very often far away or blurred siluettes in the night. A missed opportunity to have a larger scale battle that Space Marines are known for. Something unrelenting and fierce that I feel is been better exploited in Warhammer video game cutscenes, such as those in the Dawn of War series of games which portray Space Marines to be unrelenting, purposeful and curageous warriors. This is just my opinion of course.

Something else I had a split opinion on was the animation.
In a conversation I had with a friend a short while ago, he described the visuals used in the movie as ‘hammy’, which I countered that its not about the visuals. Unfortunately, there are times in the movie when the animation is somewhat embarassing and others where it looks pretty good. For agument sake, lets also remember that this isnt Pixar or Disney doing the animation here, its a relatively unknown studio called Codex Pictures. They dont have many big name projects to mention, the most notable of these are the Lego Bionicle series of movies that I understand were successful enough to the target audience… But this movie is something different. They’re playing in bigger leagues now and will be compared as such, so animation needs to be slick, even if the modelling is not great. Unfortunately I feel its the other way around, feeling as though a lot of work went into the models of the characters and not so much into their animations, subtle movements and mannerisms. As a result, still shots look great and character movements look stiff and akward. Facial animation was often impressive but equally bad at other points, however, the biggest shortfall in the visuals department has to be the smoky/foggy effect present through what feels like most of the movie. At times I almost squinted to try and see further during pan shots of what would have been an outdoor landscape.

Boreas, Space Marine InitiateI must say that wasnt bored by watching the movie. There was a fairly good feeling of atmosphere and suspense, which went on a little too long at times but was consistent. I wasnt bored, but I would not say I was gripped either (Gripped like for example when I recently watched Inception for the first time). This was part of the movie that was pretty spot on, and encouraged an impression that something was going to happen.

Voice acting was excellent in places, but was consistently good at a minimum. Donald Sumpter excelled in what I believe is a marvellous performance as the Apothocary Pythol, and along with Terence Stamp who provided a very good but not amazing voice of Captain Severus. Mr Stamp let the character down by being a little flat at times. John Hurt was suprisingly average as the Imperial Fists Chaplain, however, Sean Pertwee did not seem to fit his role as did some of the other voices for members of ‘Ultra squad’.

In conclusion, it was a good but not great movie, which in itself is dissapointing as it is a real first. There is a lot of missed opportunity here, but I hope for more and better.

Dark Millennium Online looks Awesome!!!

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I’m secretly excited, and have been for some time now… Ever since I heard whispers of a Warhammer 40k MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game), and more recently with the real announcement that there is active development on it! To say the least, I’m stoked. I ranted and raved at my friends for a while, but they all looked back at me suspiciously, so I kept quiet… and for good reason.

I’ve always been fascinated and pulled in by the amount of depth in the Warhammer 40k ‘universe’. Games Workshop have sole ownership over (And guard fiercely from my understanding) the entire Warhammer franchise, and have recently been putting it to good use. By this I mean that there are many 40k projects on the go that further tap into the vast amount of content and storytelling already woven around the 40k universe.

Examples: At the moment of the this writing, The Ultramarines Movie is JUST released (That being the FIRST real Warhammer 40k movie, all done in CGI), the W40k: Space Marine game is also soon to be released (The closest comparison I can make is to Gears of War or other 3rd person action games) and of course not to forget the steady stream of quality 40k games that have been released over the last few years (Dawn of War, Dawn of War 2, Warhammer Online and Blood Bowl among others).

The reason I’m so happy about this is because for some time Games Workshop got into an unhealthy trend of signing the Warhammer Fantasy and Warhammer 40k names to quite a few very mediocre and often just plain awful games. Fire Warrior springs to mind (Among others), and may it be struck from the history books back to whence it came. I think this is also why many fans of Warhammer go very quiet when a new Warhammer game is announced, or even comes close to release. There is a long line of games that were just… awful.

But things seem to be changing, mostly it seems because Games Workshop themselves have hand-picked and been VERY picky about who develops their games. The Dawn of War franchise did very well and has solidified Relic Games as a solid developer of quality Games Workshop games… and rightly so! Relic are the developers behind many quality games including Homeworld, which holds a VERY special place in my own heart and always will. *sigh*

But back to the game at hand; Dark Millennium Online. It looks awesome! Not only that but there appears to be a genuine intention to include some of the scale of the wars and going-on in the 40k universe. There are footage of Titans (yes TITANS!) stomping around in all their 80ft glory, stepping on whole squads. I’ve seen in one video an ork riding in a Deffkopta, which made me chuckle, and in the included screenshots here you can see that there are tanks and such included too. I’ve even seen Space Marines on bikes! If this is true to final gameplay and the game is balanced, then there might well be some EPIC battles to come. This brings me to consider what the other factions in the game will be and what they will represent or mean to the overarching experience. The Imperium is the ONLY CONFIRMED faction so far, and its obvious to see the presence of the Imperium of Man (Space Marines, Mechanicus and Imperial Guard perhaps) and the Orks (Who presumably will mostly be there to cause mayhem and fuel war which is so endemic to 40k), however, there is something to be said for the other yet unannounced factions who will be there to vary the carnage and add more diversity and agendas to the proverbial pot. According to Wikipedia, the Eldar and Chaos are rumoured but not as yet have no official word. The Eldar in particular make me wonder, as they are an enigmatic and secretive race, always meddling in the other goings on of Man, Ork and Demon.

The structure of the gameplay also makes me wonder. Will it just be a free-for-all or will there be strained alliances and turncoat behaviours at each turn? Will the Orks be truely portrayed as the ‘Sea of green’ that they are, and will the Eldar be few but powerful?

The questions… so many questions… But LOOK, here is a trailer!

Orks go WAAAGH!!!

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Well as I’ve mentioned before, I’m a Warhammer 40k player, and I wouldn’t claim to be a particularly great one at that… But I do it for the fun of it… And because I love my army: Orks! Space Orks to be exact.

Orks are a great army to play in 40k, not least because they have so much character as a race, but also because they’re great for stompin’ those pesky ‘umies!
I built my Orkish horde relatively quickly through a couple of purchases from eBay (SHOCK! HORROR! I BOUGHT models!) and a donation of old-skool Orks from a very old and good friend of mine who used to collect Orks many many years ago when I was first dipping my toes into the 40k hobby.
Back then I played for about a year, never really got the hang of the rules, didn’t really know anyone who played and eventually gave up because it turned out to be quite a solitary endeavour for me. Still, it always stayed with me and since then I would always wander into any Games Workshop store that was within eyeshot to umm and arr about collecting again. As a substitute, I got heavily into reading the wide range of 40k novels released by the Black Library, which I readily recommend.

It wasn’t until quite recently I took the plunge and actually went for it (again), purchasing the Assault on Black Reach starter set, a bunch of paints and started, encouraged by my friends who play 40k.

Since then I’ve played a handful of games, bought a few units from eBay with what I believe is a good reason: 40k can be REALLY expensive and time consuming! I worked the numbers and determined that it would be cheaper and faster if I purchased some badly painted models that I could finish/repaint, it would both speed up my army building by giving me something to immediately play with (I don’t like playing with unpainted models) and saving some cash as opposed to buying everything new.

I have bought about half of my army new, assembled and painted them myself but I do think it would have taken a long time to get to where I am now. Considering that, I wasn’t afraid that I’d lose interest… More that I wanted to PLAY sooner rather than later. I’ll get there eventually, and even now I have about 20 boyz, 20-odd nobz, 3 warbikes, 3 deffkoptas and a trukk that I have yet to assemble and/or paint. I have a lot more that I’ve painted myself and some others that I’ve bought and finished.

So, there it is, my Orks and how I got into it.
I’ll be adding photos soon of some of my units.

For more information, check out Games Workshop’s site.